by Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Ash`aree
Al-Ibaanah `An Usool ad-Diyaanah
Imaam Aboo ‘l-Hasan ibn Ismaa’eel al-Ash`aree al-Basree (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said:
“We bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant, His Apostle, His Prophet, His Trustworthy One, His Chosen One, whom He sent to His creation with the light that sheds its beams afar, with the flashing lamp, the clear arguments, the evidences, the dazzling signs, the compelling wonders; wherevore he delivered his message from God [“he delivered His Lord’s Message”], consulted His good in His creation [“gave good counsel to his community”], labored strenously for God with a true zeal, consulted His good in the countries of earth, and opposed the rebellious people, until the Word of God was fulfilled, until he attained success, and all men obeyed the truth with homage, and assurance of success came to him, unfatigued, unwearied.
Therefore, may God’s grace be with him (for he led the way to guidance and made clear the road of escape from error and blindness), and with the blessed people of his house, and with his chosen Companions and his pure wives, the mothers of the faithful! By him God informed us of the religious laws (sharaa`i’) and the ordinances (ahkaam, i.e. obligatory, meritorious, lawful, disapproved, and forbidden), of the lawful and the prohibited, and by him He made clear to us the religious law of Islaam, until by him the dark night of gloom was lifted from us, the doubts were removed from us, the screens were drawn back, the proofs were made clear to us.
He brought us “a glorious Book. Vanity shall not come to it from before it, or from behind it; it is a missive sent down from the Wise and Praiseworthy,” [41:41-42] in which he comprised the knowledge of “the first and the last.” [56:49] By him He perfected the duties of the Religion, and therefore he is the “sure road” [1:5] of God and His firm rope. He who holds fast to him shall escape, but he who opposes him shall err and wander.
In ignorance is thy ruin, and God has urged us in His Book to hold fast to the sunnah of His Apostle; wherefore God has said, “What the Apostle has given you, take: what he has refused you, refuse,” [59:7], and God has said, “And let those who transgress his command beware, lest some present trouble befall them, or a grievous chastisement befall them,” [24:63] and, “but if they would report them to the Apostle and to those who are in authority among them, those who desire information would learn it from them,” [4:85] and “And whatever the subject of your disputes, with God doth its decision rest,” [42:8] “and if you aught ye differ, bring it to God and the Apostle,” [4:62], meaning God’s Book and His Prophet’s Sunnah, and He has said, “neither speaketh he from mere impulse.
The Qur’aan is no other than a revelation revealed to him,” [53:3-4] and “Say: it is not for me to change it as mine own soul prompteth. I follow only what is revealed to me,” [10:16] and “The words of the faithful, when called to God and His Apostle that He may judge between them, are only to say, ‘We heard and we obey,'” [24:50] (and so He commands them to hear his words, obey his command, and beware of transgressing it), and He has said, “obey God and obey the Apostle,” [4:62] (and so He commands them to obey His Apostle, just as He commands them to obey Himself; and He bids them hold fast to the sunnah of His Prophet, just as He commands them to act in strict conformity with His Book).
But a great many of those against whom their “misery prevailed” [23:108] and those over whom “Satan has won the mastery” [58:20] – the sunan of God’s Prophet are “behind their backs” [2:95, 3:184, 6:94] and they have inclined towards forbears of those whose guidance in religion they have accepted and adopted their beliefs, set at nought the sunan of God’s Apostle and shunned them, denied and gainsaid them, by their calumny against God, and have erred and not been rightly guided. I enjoin upon you, O servants of God! the fear of God, and warn you against the world for it is fresh and sweet, and it deceives its inhabitants and deludes those who dwell in it, and God has said, “And set before them a similitude of the present life.
It is as water which We send down from heaven, and the herb of the earth is mingled with it, and on the morrow it becometh dry stubble which the winds scatter; for God hath power over all things,” [18:43] To him who is in good circumstances in it, it brings tears later on, and upon him to whom it has imparted its joys in secret, it bestows the open sequel of its woes. Its abundant vanities are transitory, for the things it contains agree with the judgement pronounced upon it by its Lord in His words, “All on earth shall pass away.” [55:26] Then labor for the abiding life and for endless eternity.
The world shall pass away from its inhabitants, and their works shall remain as strings upon their necks. [3:176, 17:14] Know that you are mortal, and then that you return to your Lord after your deaths. Assuredly He will reward those who have done good with good. Therefore, be diligent in obedience to your Lord and refuse what He has refused you.